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Controversial billboard will stay up

Published: 5:48AM Monday December 19, 2011 Source: ONE News

  • A controversial Christmas time billboard depicting the Virgin Mary holding up a pregnancy testing kit has been vandalised.  (Source: ONE News)
    A controversial Christmas time billboard depicting the Virgin Mary holding up a pregnancy testing kit has been vandalised. - Source: ONE News
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St Matthew in the City says it will not be replacing the vandalised billboard of Mary holding a pregnancy test.

The church believes the billboard still carries the initial message of Mary's shock, but now also carries a second message of intolerance towards those who dare to differ.

The poster was ripped in half by a Whangarei man yesterday leading a Catholic Action Group protest.

St Matthew in the City says the image is designed to reflect a very human Mary, looking down at a positive pregnancy test with her hand clasped over her mouth in shock.

Despite over 100 catholics marching through Auckland yesterday protesting against the billboard, the church has had a lot of positive feedback from around the world.

In a statement the church says people responding personally and on websites and blogs have described the picture as "thought provoking", "simply brilliant" and the subject of "smiles and considerable discussion".

A former pastor of a large parish, and now at a small country church, said St Matthew's approach is brilliant and relevant and urges the church to "keep up the radical work of love".

A Christian mother who has just found out she is pregnant (a little sooner than planned) with her second child said she knows the look in the poster and has thanked the church "for being so brave as to challenge the status quo, and to bring a new modern face to Christianity".

A former Catholic priest in Canada said the image shows a human Mary fearful about what was about to happen. "Two thumbs up from me," he said.

And a Catholic in the United States is encouraged "that someone is taking a chance and pushing to inspire thought and not dogmatic obedience to doctrine or policy".

Others said the billboard is "funny, yet purposeful",  "makes church seem like normal people" and "a brilliant way of making God's truth sink into the gift-centric, materialistic, contemporary, Christmas world".

Thank goodness there are still some Christians out there who know fun and humour, another writer says.

Included among hundreds of comments on the blog website Huffington post one person is reminded of the saying a piece of art is worth a thousand words. "This particular portrait is worth a million," it says.

No charges

Earlier, St Matthew-in-the-City vicar Glynn Cardy said the church will not press charges against the group responsible for tearing down the billboard.

Arthur Skinner led the protest and freely admits he is guilty of vandalising the billboard.

"Even people who aren't Catholics know instinctively you don't attack the Blessed Virgin who gave us the saviour of the world," said Skinner.

"To see this at this time is an absolute abomination," Skinner told ONE News yesterday.

Cardy said the billboard was not designed to upset people but aimed to communicate a message and get people talking.

"It's really asking people to remember, coming into Christmas, that this was a woman of tremendous courage and faith, that she was not some plasticised icon, somebody who doesn't have human feelings," Cardy said.

Previous controversial billboards put up by St Matthew in the City have also been vandalised as a result. Cardy said they probably won't bother replacing the latest controversial sign.

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  • Teresina said on 2011-12-20 @ 00:59 NZDT: Report abusive post

    These types of blasphemous billboards put up by St Matthews shows the move away from mainstream Christianity by Anglicanism. This group lampoons the mother of God, St Joseph and anything that Christians regard as sacred. They show no decency or respect for Christians. The Anglican bishop does nothing to stop this behaviour, so obviously by his silence he is assenting to it. No doubt this is why the Anglican Church is losing many of its members worldwide to the Catholic Church.

  • linda43 said on 2011-12-19 @ 18:35 NZDT: Report abusive post

    God has the last say in all matters.... including this.

  • John Heb said on 2011-12-19 @ 16:49 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Arthur Skinner, through your words and actions you deface the Christian story and Christianity, you belittle Mary and the immensity of her choice, and you bring into question the very theological truth we celebrate at Christmas. You should be prosecuted as a common vandal like any other vandal.

  • groupoffriends said on 2011-12-19 @ 16:23 NZDT: Report abusive post

    It is disgusting to treat Mary as though she were appalled by the pregnancy - she welcomed it, and knew it was God's will, the same as every female should. It is sacrilege and blasphemy to mistreat Mary in this way! She is the holiest woman in the history of this planet.

  • wisekiwibird said on 2011-12-19 @ 16:22 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Anyone who really knows their Bible, knows that Mary was in no way caught off guard by her pregnancy. I personally think some churches are ridiculous in the statements they make in trying to be "modern" & " thought provoking". At this time of the year a better attitude to a new life on the way would be more relevant considering the high abortion rate & child deaths through abuse this country tolerates. Isn't it about joy & rejoicing.